fr stephan on pentecost

from fr stephan freeman’s blog:

O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, Who art everywhere and fillest all things; Treasury of Blessings, and Giver of Life – come and abide in us, and cleanse us from every impurity, and save our souls, O Good One.

On this day (Sunday) the Orthodox Church marks 50 days after the feast of Pascha and commemorates the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church as recorded in the Book of Acts. In Russian tradition, the feast is known as Troitsa, the Trinity, and is the first of three feast days (including Monday and Tuesday). It is customary to bring boughs and branches into the Church – with the priest vested in Green. Thus, the Temple becomes a very green place on this feast – emphasizing not only the gift of the Spirit to the Church, but the Spirit as the Lord and Giver of Life.

Our secular world (and our culture – even our religious culture in America is decidedly secular) tends to see God and the world in very distinct compartments. This is the essence of secularism – not that there is no God – but that the world can be seen as somehow distinct from Him. From a proper Christian point-of-view the only name for the world existing apart from God is Hell. We do not have a feast which celebrates Hell.

Instead we have this glorious feast of Pentecost in which we once again begin to sing “O Heavenly King.” In this we proclaim that God is everywhere present and fillest all things. There is nothing that exists of its own. “In Him we live and move and have our being,” the Scriptures say.

God and creation are distinct in the sense that God Himself is not created; He is not contingent. But we do not see the world rightly if we see it apart from God. It is difficult for us, given our modern habit of thought, to think of things existing only relationally – but this is the teaching of the faith. When we are united to Christ, we do not become something other than we were created to be – we finally become in fact what we were created to be.

We do not exist alone – we are contingent beings. The truth of our existence is found only as we are known in relation to God and to one another. Thus love becomes the most fundamental existential reality. I love, therefore I am.

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